Welsh Secretary back petition opposing proposed new Gypsy Traveller sites
Twm Owen, local democracy reporter
A petition opposing two new locations put forward as potential Gypsy Traveller sites has been backed by the Welsh Secretary.
David TC Davies, the MP for Monmouth, is objecting to the sites that have been put forward by the county council near Caldicot and in Portskewett.
He has backed a petition by Porskewett Conservative county councillor Lisa Dymock which calls for the council to remove the sites from consideration.
Cllr Dymock said the fields, at Bradbury Farm and Oak Grove Farm, are unsuitable on road safety grounds.
She said: “The two locations in Portskewett are located on 50mph roads with blind bends. The B4245 is dangerous to pull out on, let alone walk along.
“I do not think they are suitable for the Gypsy Traveller community or for development of any kind. There are no safe routes to access local amenities and children will not be able to safely walk to school.”
More than 460 people have already signed the petition, which is open until December 6, and it calls for the sites to be withdrawn from consideration stating “the two sites proposed are unsuitable for development of any kind, including as sites for the gypsy traveller community”.
All petitions with 25 or more signatures are referred to a council scrutiny committee for consideration.
Cllr Dymock has also questioned how the two fields were identified, after a scrutiny committee rejected proposed sites at Mithcell Troy Common, Monmouth, Magor and Undy and said the process to find sites should start again.
As a result the council’s deputy leader result Paul Griffiths said he instructed officials to reconsider all council owned land including plots it hadn’t previously put forward as they had been listed as potentially suitable for residential development.
That saw the Bradbury Farm and Oak Grove Farm plots, which the council has listed as in Crick, identified in September. The Labour-led cabinet agreed at the start of October it should hold a consultation on including them, and a field behind Langley Close in Magor, in the replacement local development plan it is currently drawing up.
Cllr Griffiths has stressed inclusion of the fields in the planning blueprint isn’t the same as approving them for use as, with all sites in the plan, they would still need to get planning permission for any proposed use and he said the consultation will also address issues such as whether the sites are suitable for development.
The Bradbury Farm field is located on the northern perimeter of the farm in the Portskewett ward while Oak Grove Farm site is on land alongside Severn Farm in Leechpool, Portskewett and 2.4 miles from the farm of the same name in Caerwent.
The areas has been identified in the development plan as the Caldicot East strategic site where some 730 homes could be built during the life of the plan that will run to 2033.
The council says the assessed local need is for 10 or 11 Gypsy Traveller pitches, over the three sites, and a pitch is around 320 square metres.
Cllr Dymock said: “The entire county requires less than one acre of land.
“The county has 200,000 acres, yet the Labour-led administration is proposing the only suitable sites are all within the Severnside area.”
Mr Davies MP said: “Feedback from the Gypsy Traveller community was they did not wish to be sited in close proximity to built-up areas.
“The sites proposed in Portskewett ward are inappropriate due to the volume of houses that have already been built and the 750 to 1,400 houses Portskewett could be allocated in the future, risking its identity as a village. It’s all too much in an area that is becoming overdeveloped.”
At the October cabinet Cllr Griffiths said the local Gypsy Traveller families will be spoken with as part o the consultation but he hadn’t held any talks with them directly himself as they had felt “exposed” by the ongoing search to identify potential sites.
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